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Catherine Ashton asks ‘And Then What?’ as we discuss collaborating for long-term approaches to challenges no nation can solve alone

This is a conversation I was not anticipating, and I enjoyed greatly, with someone whom I was deeply honoured to co-create a conversation with.

Catherine Ashton is unique in many ways, as the first EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, the former Leader of the House of Lords (British Parliament upper house) with multiple Ministerial tenures in the British government.

In this conversation we discuss the very real context in which so much leading is done behind the scenes via the craft of diplomacy, that there are no significant challenges that any nation can solve alone, and how we must find better ways to collaborate – and that creating better world leaders is all about collaboration.

It’s Catherine and my great pleasure to share this conversation we you as the final guest co-created conversation of the 5th season of Better World Leaders.

Here’s a review of the key messages from this episode, based on elements of the co-created dialogue;

Tenured challenges

· Crisis’s seldom have a short fuse. They have a long fuse, which is lit when people feel they have had enough

· Often these challenges have emerged over decades, so why is it that we feel we can resolve them in short periods of time?

· We need to get better at the commitment to build circumstances where leaders can say to populations that change needs longer timeframes


· As nations, there isn’t a single challenge that we face that we can solve alone

· We must accept that we need to find ways to collaborate better

· Let’s be frank, climate change is the biggest challenge of all


· The best people to collaborate with…are those with whom you share the same values & ideas

· What keeps showing up – what are the values that give you the foundation for collaboration?

· We will support those who need support and we will be focusing on the big problems that can’t be solved without collaboration with all of us

The craft of diplomacy

· You’ve got to stick to what it is you’re trying to do, that’s the only way you will be able to collaborate sufficiently to get it done

· It’s about looking at the jigsaw puzzle. You have a picture in your mind of what you will see what you’ve succeeded. What matters is what’s in your mind, not how big the pieces are.

· This is about finding shared ground and finding people with whom to co-create shared dialogue

Context & navigating conflict

· It’s really important to humanise the problems we find ourselves in, so we can see the impact on ordinary people, which we all are

· 3 tools for navigating conflict; warm up meeting to build relationships, establish a level of trust with honesty & fairness, reflect back on progress.

· Be aware that people don’t come into a room without a whole bunch of stuff they are carrying

We are all diplomats

· Whatever you do, you’ve got to think ‘and then what’, with your eye on the long-term

· There’s an invitation to everyone to be more diplomatic in their own lives

· People often ask me how did you learn to negotiate?…We all negotiate everyday

To read more of Catherine’s story, you can pre-order her book ‘And then what?’ via the links below, ahead of the full release in February 2023;

via Goodreads

via Bookshop

via Amazon